Israeli forces operating on orders from Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday forcibly removed hundreds of Jewish residents and their supporters from a house in the heart of the Judean town of Hebron.
At least 15 people were wounded by security forces, who wielded heavy nightsticks and gas grenades. One of the wounded was listed in serious condition after being struck repeatedly on the head.
A correspondent for Israel's Channel 2 News reported that at one point police were preventing paramedics from reaching the wounded Hebron Jews. A reporter from Channel 10 News noted that mobs of local Arabs were standing on the sidelines loudly applauding as the Jews were violently dragged from the building.
Right-wing Israeli lawmakers accused Barak of acting harshly against the Hebron Jews in order to win his left-wing Labor Party additional mandates in Israel's upcoming general election.
The violence surrounding the evacuation quickly spread to the rest of Hebron and other parts of Judea and Samaria, where Arabs and Jews attacked each other with stones and damaged property.
The only reported injuries were a Jewish woman and her two-month-old baby who were lightly hurt when stone-throwing Arabs attacked their car near the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Nablus.
By Friday morning the area around the disputed house and the rest of Hebron fell under an uneasy silence. Not wanting to take any chances, 500 Israeli Border Police officers were deployed to Hebron just in case.
Dubbed the "Peace House" by its occupants, the property had been the scene of repeated clashes between police, Palestinian Arabs and local Jews over the past week.
Earlier in the week, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the defense establishment "could" remove the Jews from the house, but declined to order the evacuation of the building.
The government dismissed mountains of documentation and other evidence that the house was legally owned by Jews, instead taking the side of the Arabs who insisted that for Jews to live in that part of Hebron was an unacceptable provocation.
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